British Airways announces major £7billion overhaul

British Airways identifies 600 areas to improve as it announces £7billion overhaul in bid to reclaim ‘world’s favourite airline’ title from Middle Eastern rivals after years of decline

British Airways has embarked on massive £7billion overhaul in a bid to leapfrog rivals and regain its claim to be the ‘world’s favourite airline’.

Bosses have identified more than 600 areas where it needs to improve after years of decline and a series of mass cancellations due to IT failures.

Executives have drawn up plans for a total overhaul of the airline in the next three years that will cost £7 billion to implement.

Top of the ‘to do list’ for chief executive Sean Doyle is new and upgraded technology to prevent further meltdowns in its booking system.

There will also be changes to customer service and the quality of cabins plus the roll-out of on-board wi-fi in a bid to match rivals, most notably Middle Eastern airlines.

Bosses have identified more than 600 areas where British Airways needs to improve. Pictured are staff in their new uniforms 

Multiple IT faults have led to passengers facing huge queues at airports 

BA’s business class lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5 will be refurbished for the first time since 2008 when the terminal opened. Work was completed last month on an overhaul of a smaller lounge in Terminal 5B, a satellite, and features a new live food preparation area.

READ MORE – How they REALLY make your airline food: Why spicy menus are best to eat at 30,000 feet, what the cabin crew do with the leftovers

More than 200 people are understood to be working on rebuilding the airline’s website and app in what is understood to be the airline’s biggest investment into its ageing IT and customer service systems.

For example, it will allow passengers with problems, such as delays that will see them miss their connection, to speak to the flight crew who will arrange a re-booking while in the air.

For many years, BA based its advertising around a slogan claiming to be the ‘world’s favourite airline’ following a ranking as number one in the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards as far back as 2006. However, it managed a lowly 18th in the most recent assessment.

One source said Mr Doyle is ‘fed up’ and ‘frustrated’ by the decline and is aiming to leapfrog rivals with the major revamp.

One insider told the Times: ‘Sean wants BA to lead the way in digital transformation and has a clear plan to realise that ambition.

‘A lot of work over the past two years has gone into planning improvements and the next couple is all about execution, which will go (alongside) a relentless focus on getting after the issues that matter most to customers.’ 

The airline suffered its biggest IT failure in May 2017 when its fleet was virtually grounded after a contractor unplugged the incorrect server. 

A departures board at Heathrow Airport showing a string of cancellations 

For many years, BA based its advertising around a slogan claiming to be the ‘world’s favourite airline’

It suffered further technical problems last year, with flights grounded twice in March 2022.

At the time, Mr Doyle apologised to staff saying: ‘Many of our customers are rightly fed up. I know you’re also fed up and I’m as frustrated as you are with some of the things we’ve had to deal with.’ 

Full details of the revamp programme are expected in the new year. A spokesman said: ‘We have ambitious plans to deliver a world-class experience for our customers at every stage of their journey.

‘We’re starting to make improvements across our business and look forward to telling our customers more about these over the coming months.’

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